Conveyancing clerks and lawyers should not assume that what appears to be a straightforward conveyance actually is a straightforward conveyance. It is important to read and understand the contract of sale, section 32 statement and any other relevant documents before advising the client.
In one claim, a firm acted on the purchase of a property that was subject to a section 173 agreement with the local council restricting the type of house that could be built. The firm did not alert the purchasers to the issue when it gave pre-contractual advice.
The section 173 agreement did allow approval to be sought to build to a different design but when the purchasers sought approval to build a much larger house than allowed for in the planning permit, the application was rejected. The purchasers then claimed they would not have purchased the property if they had been informed of the section 173 condition.
During this transaction the firm was busy with multiple large subdivisions. The conveyancing clerk handling the matter assumed it was a straightforward purchase of a vacant block and failed to properly read the section 173 agreement. This resulted in the purchasers receiving no advice about the restrictions on what they could build and the options available to them.
Every conveyance and conveyancing client deserves your full attention. It is often the biggest purchase the clients will ever make and they have come to you to get it right. Don’t let them down.